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Gonzaga avoids upset from West Virginia as Kevin Pangos gets going late

Dec 11, 2013, 12:02 AM EDT

Kevin Pangos Getty Images

Gonzaga had not led since 18:35 left in the first half, but with 4:10 remaining in the game, Kyle Dranginis found the trailing Kevin Pangos, who had struggled to this point, at the top of the key for a wide-open three on the secondary break.

The sharpshooter drilled it, giving the Zags a 68-66 lead. A minute later Pangos put the Zags up 71-68 with another trey. Thirty seconds later Pangos (18 points) hit his third straight triple for a 74-66 lead. Gonzaga held on as the game went down to the wire in an 80-76 win over West Virginia in Morgantown on Tuesday night.

West Virginia led by as many as 10 in the game and with eight minutes to go Terry Henderson (15 points) hit a 3-pointer and was fouled for the rare 4-point play, putting the Mountaineers up 64-56. Gonzaga would limit West Virginia to one field goal over the next seven minutes while the Zags went on a 18-2 run. West Virginia came storming back off a 3-pointer form Eron Harris (23 points), his first points in 16 minutes, but in the waning moments Gonzaga was able to ice the game off a Sam Dower free throw.

Przemek Karnowski ended the game with 19 points and 13 rebounds, controlling the glass late in the game and limiting second-chance opportunities for the Mountaineers. Rebounding and pushing the ball in transition was key for Gonzaga, as the offense struggled in the half-court set, partly because Pangos was struggling for much of the game.

Defense is the chief concern for No. 20 Gonzaga. It didn’t get fixed tonight. It will most likely remain a problem moving forward. Mark Few’s team gave up a combined 55 points the perimeter attack of Harris, Henderson and Juwan Staten. But with eight minutes to go, the Zags zone defense helped force West Virginia in an extended drought, while Pangos got in rhythm offensively to connect on the big threes down the stretch.

It’s not easy to win in Morgantown, especially with the scorers the Mountaineers have, and the defense Gonzaga played for the first 30-plus minutes of the game. Either way Gonzaga travels back across country with the ‘W’ and a 9-1 record.